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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
January 30, 2005
Cultivating New Life in Christ – Edification
This morning we begin a short series on the nature and purpose of the Church.
My purpose in doing this is to clear up some confusion about the church that
became apparent last fall. Elias and I will be splitting the subject matter so
that you will be able to get a fresh perspective as well as my own which I have
shared with you in the past. We will be doing this a little out of sequence due
to the weather last week and Elias speaking at a winter camp today. Next week he
will deal with the topic of evangelism. This morning I will deal with the topics
of discipleship and evangelism.
The purpose of Grace Bible Church is to carry out the commission our Lord
gave to us in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus said in those verses, "All authority
has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples
of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the
Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am
with you always, even to the end of the age." We have summarized this
command in our church motto and purpose statement: "Glorifying God by Making
Disciples of Jesus Christ."
The idea of glorifying God should be a given for any church since everything
has been created by God for God (Colo. 1:16) including the church. Ephesians
3:21 states this directly saying, "to Him [be] the glory in the church and in
Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."
But what is this about disciples? A disciple is simply someone who follows
the teachings of another. They learn from the teacher. They identify with the
teacher. They seek to be like the teacher. Luke 6:40 gives a good description
saying that the "disciple is not above his teacher… but after being fully
trained will be like his teacher." Paul tells us in Rom. 8 that all those
that will be saved are "predestined to be conformed to the image of [Jesus]."
The purpose of this church then is to bring glory to God by helping people
become more like Jesus Christ.
How do we do that? Jesus command in Matthew 28 gives three parts to making
disciples. Go. Baptize. Teach. We are to go to those that do not know Jesus and
tell them about Him. Those who believe are then baptized as their personal
identification with Jesus death, burial and resurrection. They have died to self
and then been raised to newness of life in Jesus. Then we spend the rest of
their life in teaching them to observe all of Jesus’ commands which is done
through both the declaration of Biblical truth and the personal encouragement to
live accordingly. The result is that God is glorified.
Here at Grace Bible Church we have divided our purpose statement of
"Glorifying God by Making Disciples of Jesus Christ" into four tasks:
Communicating New Life in Christ (evangelism); Caring for New Life in Christ
(fellowship); Cultivating New Life in Christ (edification) and Celebrating New
Life in Christ (worship).
Elias will preach on the first two tasks over the next couple of weeks. We
thought it best for him to speak on those subjects since one of our desires this
year is to hire Elias this Summer as the Associate Pastor of Evangelism and
Assimilation. Evangelism and Fellowship will be part of his ministry, so it is
important for you to hear his heart on these subjects. This morning I will be
speaking to you about the third task. We are to Cultivate New Life in Christ. We
are to build each other up into Christ likeness. This is often called
What is Edification?
Edification sounds like one of those words you learn in college so that you
can sound smart regardless of the truth, but we don’t want to be like the
English student who was working on suffixes and reasoned that if "acidification"
meant to make something more acidic, and if "humidification" meant to make
something more humid, and if "solidification" meant to make something more
solid, then "edification" must mean to make something more like someone named
"Ed." (That is my bad joke for today).
Edification, according to Webster, simply means, "enlightening of
ignorance, or moral or spiritual instruction." In the New Testament the word
often translated as "edify" or "edification," is a compound word made up of
oikoV (Oikos), which means house, &
domew (Domeo), which means to build. These two words together literally
mean, "to build a house."
The word is used in the literal sense many places in the New Testament in
reference to various buildings. It is used in relation to the temple (Acts
7:47), a barn (Lk 12:8), a tower (Mt 21:33) and even the sepulchers of the
prophets (Mt. 23:29). Oikodomew (oikodomeo) is "to
build a structure" of some type.
The word is also used figuratively in several ways, and it is in one of the
figurative usage that we get the idea of "edification."
The first figurative usage refers to the coming into existence and expansion
of the church. Jesus said in Mt 16:8, "upon this rock I will build my
church." Jesus is not referring to some physical building somewhere,
but to the universal church made up of all those who believe in Him. In a
similar way 1 Peter 2:5 refers to believers which "as living stones, are
being built up as a spiritual house . . .". Paul states in 1 Cor 3:9 that
Christians are "God’s building." The nature of this building of God, the
Church, is that it is to grow. It is to expand and enlarge into a holy temple
of the Lord (Eph 2:21).
Another figurative use is in its reference to a body of theological
knowledge. Paul says in Romans 15:20 that he did not want to build on
another man’s foundation. He is talking about going to a place where the gospel
had already been proclaimed. Paul wanted to go to a new place that had not heard
the gospel. In Galatians 2:18 Paul added that he did not want to "rebuild
what I have once destroyed." Paul had led them out of legalistic Judaism and
into the grace of Christ. He did not want them to return to that theological
system of righteousness by works.
The third figurative usage of "edification" is "enlightening of ignorance,
or moral or spiritual instruction." This is to build up spiritually. We will
see how that is done in the church in a moment, but before I go on, let me add a
footnote here why I have told you so much background on this word we often
translate as "edification."
I want you to have a certain image in your mind about edification before we
start talking about its personal application. I want you to think about a
building being erected. Think about all the different things that go into it.
There are many different types of workers. Architects who design the building.
Carpenters build forms, and a foundation of concrete is poured. More carpenters
come and frame the building and then electricians and plumbers begin their work.
Others workers come. There are people who do dry wall, people who hang the
doors, cabinet makers, painters, carpet and linoleum layers. The building is up
and it is functional, but the work is not done. There are still decorative
fixtures to be installed. Curtains are put up. Paintings are hung. And about the
time you think it is done, a wall is knocked out so that the place can be
expanded! That is the picture I want running through the back of your mind.
There are a lot of people involved in building something. This is also true of
your spiritual state, and about the time you think the work on you is done, look
out, because it is time to knock a wall out and start expanding.
How Does Edification Work in the Church.
The first thing to understand about the work of edification, is that it is
the work of the Lord. Remember, Jesus said He would build His
Church (Matt. 16:18). We are only servants who are used by Him to accomplish the
building of the Church. He is the one doing the work. It is the Holy Spirit that
convicts a person of their need for Christ, and thereby become a part of the
church (John 16). People do not come to Christ on their own. It is God the
Father that draws them to Jesus (John 6:44). And it is the Holy Spirit that
teaches believers (1 John 2:27). All of this is the work of God.
The second thing to understand about edification is that, of necessity, it
encompasses a body of theological truth. Part of the work of edification is
education. That is why teaching is such a large part of the work of the Church.
As I pointed out earlier, teaching is one of the three integral aspects of
fulfilling the Great Commission of Matt 28:19,20. Jesus commanded to us to go
make disciples which is done by declaring the gospel to people, baptizing those
who respond by faith in Jesus Christ, and then teaching them how God wants them
Teaching is also vital to our spiritual lives. Too many professing Christians
are caught up in the spirit of our age and want to make this secondary by
placing more emphasis on how they feel than in what they know. The Scriptures do
not. Consider passages such as 2 Peter 1:2-4. "Grace and peace be multiplied
to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His
divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness,
through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and
excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent
promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature,
having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." Notice the
centrality of knowledge in this passage. The "grace and peace" wished for
is in the "knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." "His divine power"
which grants us everything we need to live a holy life is "through the true
knowledge of Him." And finally, "His precious and magnificent promises"
come to us through the "true knowledge of Him." You can stand on His
promises regardless of how you feel, but you can’t stand on a promise you don’t
Teaching the Scriptures is the only cure for our ignorance of God for it is
the only way we can come to truly know Him. Without Biblical knowledge we would
not know of Jesus or His offer of salvation. We would be left dead in our
trespasses and sin. We would not know that Jesus’ death on the Cross and His
resurrection the third day allows us to be forgiven of our sins and brought back
into relationship with Him thereby escaping eternal torment in hell. Without
Biblical knowledge we would wander in our own thoughts and speculations ignorant
that Jesus Christ is the only way to God the Father (John 14:6), and that
salvation is granted by God’s grace on the basis of faith in Jesus and not upon
our attempted works of righteousness (Eph. 2:8,9; Titus 3:5).
It is through Bible teaching that we know that Jesus sits on the right hand
of the Father that we may draw near with confidence to God’s throne of Grace
(Heb 4:16) through Jesus’ blood (Heb 10:19). True Christians are brought into a
relationship with God, so a goal of their lives becomes knowing Him more
intimately every day. That is why they place such importance on being built up
in the knowledge of God through Bible study by godly teachers and through self
Teaching is also vital to the Christian’s walk and welfare because it not
only brings us into a better understanding of our loving Heavenly Father, but
also His desires for us. While Biblical teaching includes a lot of information
content, it is not to be dry lectures. Edification is teaching to bring about
change in the individual, not just increased information. Edification demands a
change in the heart and life as that information given to the mind is applied to
This is extremely important because knowledge by itself can be detrimental. 1
Cor 8:1 tells us that "Knowledge puffs up [makes arrogant], but charity
[love] edifies [builds up]." An example of this is seen in Romans 14 where
Paul discusses those things which may or may not be evil depending on the
culture and the individual. Starting in verse 17, Paul says, "the kingdom of
God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy
Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved
by men. So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and building up
of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All
things are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense."
We are to walk in love (vs 15) and not unnecessarily offend our brother who does
not yet understand the freedom we have in Christ. In 15:2 Paul states it clearly
– "Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.
For even Christ did not please Himself . . .". Knowledge about our freedom
in Christ is important, but it is to be used to please God and not ourselves. It
is used to build up others, not just to do what we want.
Edification is knowledge applied with godly wisdom. It has the humble mindset
of Phil 2:3,4 – "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with
humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than
himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for
the interest of others."
This again stresses this essential point about the nature of teaching. Too
often we tend to think of "teaching" in the context of someone giving a lecture
like a Pastor’s Sermon, or a Bible Study Leaders monologue. That is teaching,
but the lecture format is not the only way of teaching. In fact, in many ways,
it is the least effective form of teaching, though God uses it by His design
Going back to the Great Commission, Jesus commands us to go and make
disciples of all nations. We can do this best if we followed Jesus’ example.
How did Jesus teach his disciples? In every kind of life situation. While
walking along a road, sitting by the side of a lake, while eating, while talking
with people, and also in the Synagogues and in lectures. The model is actually
that of a parent teaching their children. As applied to the church, this means
that a lot of the teaching ministry of the church actually occurs away from the
church building and in the common everyday experiences of its people. You do not
have to be teaching a class of some type in this building to be involved in the
teaching ministry of the church. You are involved in teaching others in more
ways than you have probably ever thought about, and you may never know about the
lessons you have taught to others until you reach heaven.
I had a man bring that point home to me at a farewell party held for Diane
and I prior to coming here. This man had been in my Home Bible Studies for four
years. He had listened to my sermons for over a year. Yet he said that he had
learned more by spending time with me and us sharing our lives with each other
than he ever did by my Bible lessons and sermons. It is a bit scary to think
that someone is watching your life that closely, but that is exactly where a lot
of teaching occurs. That is the reason for our emphasis on personal
We should also note that the church’s ministry of edification is for the
whole body. Romans 12, 1 Cor. 12-14 & Eph. 4 all point out that the purpose of
spiritual gifts is to edify the whole body. Regardless of what gift or gifts you
may have, the purpose of every gift is for the benefit of other believers. There
are no spiritual gifts which have a purpose of self edification. Paul’s argument
in 1 Cor. 14 against their practice of speaking in tongues was precisely on this
point. The Corinthian church had become factioned and divided because of the
selfish nature of their use of the gifts that God had given to them.
This concept of the body as applied to the church is an important one. Paul’s
most vivid description of it is in 1 Corinthians 12 where he compares the Body
of Christ, the church, to a human body. Just a human body has many parts – feet,
hands, ears, eyes, a head, etc., so the church is made of up of people that God
has given different spiritual gifts – teaching, prophecy, service, exhortation,
giving, mercy, leadership, administration, helps, etc. The human body needs all
its parts to work together to achieve peak efficiency and effectiveness. It can
live without certain parts, but it is crippled. The same is true with the Body
of Christ. It is crippled if it does not have all the gifts needed or if those
with the gifts do not work together. The church needs all the gifts to working
together if it is to be effective.
Paul also comments that those parts of the body that are usually considered
weaker or less important are necessary. We give a lot of thought to our hair and
how our face looks, but you can do well with little or no hair and a face that
is less than beautiful. Yet we give little thought to most of our internal
organs, but if any of them are not heathy, your whole body will become very
sick, and you will die if they stop working.
The same is true in the body of Christ. Lots of attention is often given to
those whose gifts are out front in public view, but a church can still be very
healthy even if they do not have a preacher or music leader, for many churches
have. But if the church loses everyone with the gift of administration, it will
become a well intentioned oaf. If it loses everyone with the gift of helps and
service, it will become paralyzed. If it loses everyone with the gift of
exhortation it will descend into selfishness and self-destruct. Everyone and
every gift is needed to be working harmony for the church to effectively carry
out its purpose in glorifying God by making disciples of Jesus Christ.
I don’t know what everyone’s gift might be, but God knows what it is, and He
wants you to use it. We can help in that process in several ways. First, there
is a paper available in the rack in the back of the church that lists all the
gifts mentioned in Scripture. You can get the sermon notes or tapes for the
series done on Romans 12:4-8. We also have access to Spiritual Gift Inventories
that will help give you an idea of what your gifts might be. Just ask me after
the service. But primarily, you need to be praying and seeking the Lord in this
matter as you examine your own heart. As you walk daily with the Lord, He will
change your heart to match His own. He will then give you the desires of your
heart. What then would you like to do? Try that first and see if the Lord does
use you to glorify Himself. You will know you are gifted in that area when that
happens and it is confirmed by other godly people.
Paul’s desire was to see all the spiritual gifts being used as intended for
building up the faith and spiritual walk of the whole church and not for selfish
Eph. 4:11-16 states this concisely. "And He gave some as apostles, and
some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for
the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the
body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the
knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature
which belongs to the fulness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be
children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of
doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but
speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is
the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together
by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each
individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in
Note what edification is to produce and to build up toward. V. 13 – Unity of
faith; knowledge of Jesus; Maturity according to Christ’s standard. V. 14 –
Stability in our faith and doctrine. V. 15 – Speaking the truth in love and
growing in all aspects. V. 16 – being fitted together with other believers so
that the church will grow and increase in love.
Edification is also personal. While it is true that edification occurs when
teaching is given to a whole group, such as what is occurring right now with
this sermon, there is also a personal aspect to it. Even in the last part of 2
Corinthians where Paul is admonishing them for their quickness to listen to
arrogant itinerant preachers who really did not know what they were talking
about, Paul speaks of edifying them three times, and each time he uses the
personal pronoun. 2 Cor. 10:8 – "….which the Lord gave for building you
up…" 12:19 – "…it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking
in Christ; and all for your up-building, beloved." 13:10 – "in
accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me, for the building up
and not for tearing down." This brings it back to you.
How Does Edification Affect You?
First, edification cannot affect you if you have not yet yielded your life to
Jesus Christ. A person cannot be built up in their relationship with the Lord
Jesus if there is no relationship to begin with. If you have not yet placed your
trust in Jesus Christ and His work alone for life both in eternity and in the
present, then you need to talk with myself or one of the other church leaders
today. Do not leave this place without having peace with God.
Second, you must grow in your knowledge of and submission to the Lord Jesus
Christ. If all you doing is attending the worship services here, then you are on
a starvation diet. You are never going to really know Jesus Christ until you
understand the Word of God for yourself and learn how to apply it to your own
life. That requires that you are able to study the Bible for yourself and that
you are interacting with the rest of the body of Christ, and especially with
more mature Christians. Are you involved with you own daily Bible reading and
study? We have lots of material to help you do that. Are you using any of it? Do
you get together with other believers and talk about the Scriptures and what the
Lord is doing in your lives and pray for one another? There are plenty of
opportunities for doing that, but you have to take advantage of them. Adult
Sunday School has just started a series in how to study the Bible. You need to
come. You also have to apply to your own life the knowledge you gain. Knowledge
without personal application results in self-righteous pride.
Finally, you must use your spiritual gifts within the body. I have already
pointed out that the working together of spiritual gifts is part of edification.
Remember that analogy of a building being erected that I wanted you to keep in
the back of your mind? Where do you fit? What worker are you? A carpenter?
plumber? painter? interior decorator? Every gift is needed for building up of
the whole body.
Edification: It is the "enlightening of ignorance, or moral or spiritual
instruction." In the church, edification means coming to a greater
understanding of God and learning to walk with Him, living our lives in a way
that is pleasing to Him. With that in mind, the church provides instruction
about God, teaches whatsoever He has commanded, and puts believers together
where they can use their spiritual gifts to help one another put Biblical truth
into daily life.
I pray you are involved in the church’s ministry of edification and heeding
the command of 1 Thess 5:11 – "Therefore encourage one another, and build up
one another, just as you also are doing."
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives.
Here is some help.
Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the
sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children –
Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the
sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times the term
"edify/edification" is used in the sermon. Talk with your parents about how you
a built up in your faith in Christ.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
What does "edification" mean? Give some examples of it being used in its
literal sense. Give some examples of it being used in a figurative sense. Have
you ever watched a building being put up? How many different jobs did you see
being done? How many different jobs do you see that need to be done in the
church? What is God’s part in building you up in Christ? What is the importance
of knowledge? What things do you need to be knowledgeable about in order to grow
in Christ? What is the danger of knowledge? How is that danger overcome? What
are some of the ways in which can be taught the Scriptures? What are some of the
ways a person can be taught to live for Jesus Christ? What are some of the
evidences of a church that is becoming mature in Christ? (See Eph. 4:12f). Who
are some of the people that are helping you become more like Jesus? Who are some
of the people that you are helping become more like Jesus? How are you
personally growing in your knowledge of the Bible? Who do you pray with?
Sermon Notes – January 30, 2005
Cultivating New Life in Christ
What is Edification?
How Does it Work in the Church?
A Work of God
A Body of Knowledge
Fulfilling the Great Commission (Mt. 28:19,20)
Pivotal in a Christian’s Life (2 Peter 1:2-4)
Vital to our Walk & Welfare
The Danger of Knowledge (1 Cor. 8:1)
An Example: Romans 14:15-15:2
The Right Mindset (Phil. 2:3,4)
Preaching & Teaching
Its for the Whole Body
It Applies to You
2 Corinthians 10:8; 12:19; 13:10
How Does this Affect You?
Do You Know the Savior?
Are You Growing in the Knowledge of Jesus Christ?
Are You Using Your Spiritual Gifts?